Oregon GOP state senators again fail to show up for legislative session amid climate bill protest

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jun 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-23 18:31:04-04

The Oregon state senate quickly adjourned Sunday because the Republican senators who staged a walkout last week over a climate bill didn’t show up to the session, according to the state legislature’s website.

Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, adjourned the session without a quorum until Monday at 10 a.m. PTD after the state’s 11 GOP senators failed to appear, CNN affiliate KOIN reports.

“Again, I ask the senators that are not here to please if you would come to the building, and we have budgets we need to pass that are for all of Oregon,” Courtney said before adjourning.

The Republicans walked out of a session on Thursday over disagreements on HB 2020, a cap and trade climate bill, that had passed the state House on Monday. They then failed to appear later Thursday for floor proceedings. Their absence left the legislative body two senators short of a quorum, blocking the chamber’s proceedings.

Oregon Senate Republicans said in a statement Thursday that they decided to stage a walkout and leave the state “to protest cap and trade because it should be referred to the ballot so every Oregonian has a voice.”

At least some of the senators have left the state, according to a statement from the Oregon Senate Republicans. Peggie Boquist, wife of Oregon GOP Sen. Brian Boquist, told CNN the senators are in Idaho.

Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown authorized state police on Thursday to locate Senate Republicans and bring them back to the state Capitol. KOIN reported the missing Republicans would begin to be fined $500 a day if they hadn’t returned by 11 a.m. Friday.

Brian Boquist was defiant in response to Brown’s initial warning to lawmakers, telling TV station KGW, “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

The Oregon State Police said in a statement to CNN on Thursday that it is complying with the governor’s “lawful directive,” and “utilizing established relationships to have polite communication” with the absent senators.

On Saturday, the Oregon state Senate canceled its session after state police deemed the safety of lawmakers was threatened. KOIN reported the cancellation came after militia groups gathered at the state Capitol, raising concerns for safety.

The passage and signing of HB 2020 would have Oregon join 11 other states that use market-based approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would place a “cap,” or an overall limit on emissions, and then would provide a mechanism to sell fuel providers “emission allowances.” State Republicans argue that the measure should be referred to a state ballot rather than voted on in the state Legislature.

Oregon’s legislative session ends on June 30. Brown has said she will call a special session if there is still work to be done, according to KOIN.